A week ago, it seemed all but certain that Stanford would be guaranteed a BCS bowl berth by virtue of finishing in the top four of the BCS standings. LSU and Alabama were destined for a rematch of the Snooze of the Century and the Cardinal would play the Bedlam winner in the Fiesta Bowl.
But after No. 3 Oklahoma State dismantled No. 13 Oklahoma, 44-10, there's a chance that the Cowboys could jump idle Alabama in the BCS standings. (They have Bob Stoops' vote in the Coaches Poll.) What are the ramifications for Stanford if the National Championship Game is LSU vs. Oklahoma State and Alabama slides to third?
The worst-case scenario, which is highly improbable, leaves the Cardinal out of the BCS entirely. Yes, even though Stanford is certain to finish fourth in the final BCS standings, the Cardinal would lose its "Rule of Four" protection if Alabama and Oklahoma State swap positions. If that happens, it's difficult to imagine the Fiesta Bowl passing on Andrew Luck and Stanford, who would attract a large TV audience, as an at-large team. As Wilner notes, the Fiesta Bowl's executive director is a Stanford graduate and the No. 4 team in the final BCS standings has never been squeezed out of a BCS bowl. The Fiesta Bowl remains Stanford's most likely destination.
If you haven't bought plane tickets to Phoenix yet, you might want to hold off until tonight. While it's extremely unlikely that Stanford will be playing in the Alamo Bowl, there's a chance, if Oklahoma State and Alabama swap positions, that the Cardinal could play the Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl. That's the option I'll be rooting for, but I still think Stanford winds up in the Fiesta Bowl one way or another.